Ker HC | Petitioner concedes to be expressly responsible for paying entire arrears of electric charges left unpaid by the old occupier; petition dismissed

Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J. contemplated a writ petition under the laws and statutory prescriptions related to supply of electricity, where there was this rule that no fresh supply was to be granted to premises if its earlier owner/occupier had left unpaid arrears of charges for electric consumption. However, the Kerala Electricity Supply Code, 2014, contained a limited exception to this rule, through Regulation 40(3) thereof and it was this provision which was relied upon by the petitioner in this Writ Petition, while seeking a new electric connection from the Board.

In the instant petition, the petitioner was a Managing Partner of an industrial unit, contended that the particular area was allotted to them by District Industries Centre and before them, another unit worked their. It was further contended that a fresh KSEB was to be issued electric connection under Regulation 40(3) of the Kerala Electricity Supply Code 2014,  because under its mandate, they were obligated to give connection to the purchaser or to the new occupier of the premises, even if the previous occupier had left arrears of charges relating to electric consumption. The counsel for the petitioner, Ziyad Rahman, submitted that it was manifested that the petitioner was the new occupier, who had been allotted the premises by the KSIDC and was entitled to the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code.

On the other hand, Sudheer Ganesh Kumar, counsel for the KSEB, submitted that petitioner cannot claim the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Code because the allotment of the premises in question was made in his favour by the Industries Department under an express condition that he will pay off the entire arrears of electricity charges left unpaid by the previous occupier. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits.

The Court observed that, ineluctable from the provision of the Code, it was only when a purchaser sought a new connection that the KSEB was obligated to grant the same, on condition that the said purchaser deposited the arrears without interest, so that KSEB can recover the same from the original allottee within a period of three years; and if such recovery becomes possible, then the deposit aforementioned was to be returned to the purchaser. Obviously, therefore, this provision postulates three actors, namely, the new purchaser, KSEB and the old consumer who had left electric charges and arrears unpaid. The Court further observed that the agreement between KSEB and the petitioner, imposed liability on the petitioner entirely. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits. The Court held that, “here is a case where the petitioner concedes to be expressly responsible for paying the entire arrears of electric charges left unpaid by the old occupier; thus clearly indicating that the original consumer has no such liability left; and consequently, Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code cannot be of any avail to him.”[Rafeek C. A v. Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2037, decided on 14-06-2019]

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